The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along Week Four

Having fun with the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The fourth week is all about the heel and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

Leslie Alpenglow Dyed Yarn

Eat, Knit and Dye

For today’s installment of Eat, Knit and Dye, I decided to try a color combination that is outside my normal intense color range. I was thinking of something like dawn at Mt. Rainier and I wanted it to be a lacy yarn, so I choose Leslie as my undyed base. Leslie is a single-ply of 100% Merino Wool superwash, perfect for intricate lace projects (656 yards / 100 gram hank.)

This is a complete experiment, so who knows what will happen.  This could be a beautiful colorway.  It could be a complete disaster.  Either way, its going to be fun to try!

Closer inspection of this gorgeous photo led me to select 5 colors: gold, coral, lavender, blue and grey. I knew I was going to be doing some color mixing to get the shades that I desired, so I decided to premix the colors into condiment bottles. Here are the recipes and all are mixed with 2 ounces of water.
   •    Gold = 1/16 tsp Jacquard Golden Ochre,  1/16 tsp Bright Yellow
   •    Coral = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Salmon
   •    Lavender = 1/16 tsp Jacquard Periwinkle, 1/16 tsp Lilac
   •    Blue = 1/18 tsp Jacquard Sky Blue, a pinch of Silver Grey
   •    Grey = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Gun Metal

Don't be afraid to change the colors to different shades of color. This is an experiment.  For example, the coral recipe is a warmer tone then that in the picture because its representing the bright pink and the orange in the picture.

Mt. Rainier by Jordan Steranka

While my colors were being mixed, I soaked my yarn in a bowl of water and 1 tsp of citric acid for 30 minutes. (Also notice that I used embroidery floss to tie the hank together in a few sections to keep the yarn from becoming a tangled mess). And then I transferred it into my trusty brownie pan and placed it over two burners on my stove. I also knew I’d be doing speckles, so I protected my stove by covering the surface with tin foil. And as always, a reminder that acid dye is not food safe, so everything you see here is used only for dyeing yarn and never for food prep.

I had this grand, glorious idea of a mottled, shifting yarn. I poured the yarn soaking water into the brownie pan. Keeping the water very shallow, parts of the yarn remained above the waterline. The dye was dripped into splotches of random color. It very quickly became apparent the dye was striking quickly, and it was only attaching to the surface of the yarn.

OK, so that didn't work. Time for a different tactic! I added more water, so the yarn was completely submerged, and then added a generous amount of dye in blocks of color. Some wiggling of the yarn with my prongs ensured the dye water was circulating. Satisfied I was getting more of the effect I wanted, I allowed the yarn to soak up all the colors, and exhaust the dye. (Exhausting the dye bath is a term that means all the color has attached itself to the fibers, and the remaining liquid is clear.)


Once the liquid was mostly clear, I used my tongs to check and see if the underside of the yarn had dyed, and the answer was... wait for it....

No.

That's OK. This is all an experiment, remember? And it's just yarn. And dye. And time. In the end, we are sure to end up with something interesting, and I'm learning so much as I go.

So, I rotated the yarn in the pan so that the undyed sections were facing up, while keeping the colors in the same section. Then, I added more dye to the water, again letting it exhaust.

Now that the color is fairly uniform, its time to add speckles! I decided to add the speckles in only two of the colors because I didn’t want this visually busy yarn being overwhelmed. For this yarn, I used Salmon and Gun Metal. I added  powdered dye into a tea strainer (make sure you do this over the open dye jar; or a lot of the powder will go straight through the strainer and all over your counter. (I found this out the hard way!) Using a measuring spoon, tap the side of the strainer to allow some of the dye powder to drift down into the bath and it will lightly speckle the yarn. I tapped the Salmon color over the gold, salmon, and lavender sections. I tapped the Gun Metal over all the colors.

I figured I was done at this point and turned off the heat and let it cool. Once cooled off, I transferred the yarn to my sink. At this point, I noticed that the pink section didn’t get all the way dyed. No worries; I just turned the heat back on and added more pink dye to the remaining liquid, and draped the yarn over the pan so the undyed yarn could get some color. I allowed the dye to exhaust again.

NOW it's gorgeous. Finally done, I rinsed the yarn in the sink. Adding  a drop of clear dish soap helped to remove the excess dye. Once the water ran clear, I squeezed out the excess water with a towel and then hung the yarn it outside to dry. 

I am super pleased how this experiment turned out. And I learned a lot.

Lessons Learned

- My trusty brownie pan is not great for circulating water
- Mixing acid dyes can create some pretty new colors
- Always check through the strands of yarn to ensure even color distribution

- Take care when handling dye in powdered form

Want to match your dyed hank of Leslie with a solid color? Here's a fun fact: Leslie is the undyed version of Zitron Filigran, which comes in solids and multicolors. Combine your hand dyed with a solid for a fun stripe, or mosaic, or colorwork piece! We want to see your project! Tag us on social media with #makersmercantile.

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy
Monster Along with BeLinda Creech

June 2019 Monster Along with Belinda Creech

BeLinda Creech's "Monster"  Make-Along ...
Featuring Makers’ Mercantile exclusive Kinky Yarn

BeLinda Creech is hosting June’s Makers’ Mercantile KAL

Join educator and toy-maker BeLinda Creech for the June Makers' Mercantile Monster-Along! Using Kinky Yarn, she will provide ideas and encouragement as you craft your very own monsters. All it takes is 1/2 of a coil of Kinky Yarn, a little felt, some buttons, and your inner child! We can't wait to see everyone's creations!

Want the pattern for free? Purchase Kinky Yarn now through 6/30, and receive a download code for the pattern for free!

The Line Drawing Knit-Along starts Saturday June 1st, 2019.  Get your supplies now!

Project

Monster Along with BeLinda Creech

Toymaker BeLinda Creech handcrafts fiberarts “creechures” in her Kentucky studio. When showing her work at craft fairs and galleries, patrons comment “wow!” or “This is so amazing.. can I take a photo?” They love the imagination involved in crafting a toy but not many realize that the “making” of a toy is almost as magical as the giving it away.

In this Monster-Along, we're going to make a toy and talk about why it matters.

BeLinda took her little Sharpie monster to knitting class yesterday and her students loved him. They talked about how cute he was and how he fit in their hands just perfectly and how he felt so good to hold. Guess what? All that stuff really matters to her. She loves seeing smiles, and making people laugh, and having a moment of joy. The size of the monster and its simplified features are part of what help it to be an ideal first toy for you to make (either alone, or with your little one).

For her, the most ideal toys come from imagination, and aren’t tied to culture or television shows. These special creatures provide the chance to create an identity as well. What name might you choose? Does he like popcorn? Beets? Does he live in the air conditioner because he likes how the wind blows through his fluffy body?

The best part? It's not just kid stuff. While BeLinda teaches children both in schools and at an art studio, many of her favorite customers are grown-ups who look at something she made and it sparks interest in their inner child.

Let’s make a new friend. Maybe it's for you, or a kid...or a grown-up friend that needs a little joy. BeLinda will be on Ravelry all June long to cheer you on in your project so come join the conversation there and feel free to ask questions.

Schedule

Join BeLinda and your fellow Monster-Makers in the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Group Page. This forum provides a space for you to share progress, stories, and ideas as you bring your monsters to life. 

Materials

Materials

1 coil of Kinky Yarn

Finished Sizes

Approximately 9” from hand to hand, and 8” head to toe, 2” thick 

Needles

Gauge

12 sts + 24 rows in 4” garter stitch

Notions

Tapestry Needle, Stitch MarkerTwo (2) buttons or safety eyes, scrap felt, embroidery thread, ¼ cup vinegar, Polyfill or other stuffing, scissors

Skill Level

Intermediate

Yarn

Kinky Yarn - This fun yarn comes pre-knit in a 12 stitch tube (not an i-cord) and is ready to dye. Keep it coiled and place it in dye for an unusual effect, or open the coil and dip it all the way in a dyebath. Depending on your process, the yarn might have light spots where the fibers are compacted in the knitting. It's easy to dye this yarn, AND it's easy to get professional results, no matter your level of experience. 

Fiber Content

100% Superwash Wool

Yardage / Weight

200 grams
133 meters / 147 yards

Gauge

12-16 sts and 20-22 rows = 4" on US 10-13 (6-9.0 mm) needles

Care Instructions

Hand Wash Cold, Dry Flat

The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along – Week Three

Having fun with the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The third week is all about the toe and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

Long Gradient Dyeing

Long Gradient Hand Dye

Eat, Knit and Dye

I absolutely love color, and I am completely in love with hand-dyed yarns. It’s time for my two loves to meet each other! Hi, my name is Tara, and this is Eat, Knit and Dye! By day, I am the graphic designer for Makers’ Mercantile®. By night, I am discovering how to hand dye yarn. And you get to join me on this adventure on Wednesdays.

Did you know that Makers’ Mercantile® sells undyed yarn? Hopefully, you have already had a chance to check out Kinky Yarn and maybe even had some time to play with it. But they also have a whole slew of yarns in different weights and fibers just waiting for you to add some color. They even have the supplies you need for dyeing – acid dyes, natural dyes, and fashion sprays.

Want to learn how to make your own beautiful rainbow long gradient hand-dyed wool? Read on!

Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing
Long Gradient Dyeing

For my inaugural post, I decided to start with the undyed base called Frida. It’s a fingering yarn that is ultra-fine and unbelievable soft (16 microns!). It’s a 100% Merino Wool Superwash and comes in a 393 yard / 100-gram hank.

Before we get started, a note on safety. I’ll be using Jacquard Acid Dyes which are not food safe. So, all the tools you see are dedicated solely to dyeing. I am also wearing a face mask when working with the powdered dyes. They are an extremely fine particulate and you don’t want them in your lungs.

Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

I wanted to try my hand at an extremely long gradient in the rainbow spectrum. That means over the course of 393 yards we will hit all 6 colors. I also didn’t want the yarn to be striping, so I want the color shifts to be gradual. To achieve that, I divided the yarn into lots of mini hanks. I sat down with an old coffee thermos and wrapped the yarn around it 20 times, then tied each hank with embroidery floss into two places. I just kept going until I ran out of yarn. (I highly suggest binge watching some shows while you do this, it's not a fast process.) Do make sure things don’t get tangled, and your hanks don’t have to be perfectly measured.

Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

At my local thrift store, I found this really cool pan. It’s supposed to be for brownies so everyone can make sure they get an edge piece. Luckily, I like the middle parts of brownies, so I was happy to sacrifice this pan to this project. You’ll be seeing this pan in future posts. I wouldn’t dye more than one hank at a time, but it works really well for controlling the colors for that single hank.


Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

I filled the pan up with water and 1 tsp of citric acid. Then I added the yarn, trying to distribute the yarn evenly along the path. I put the pan across two burners so the water could be sort of evenly heated. Then I let it soak for about 30 minutes while I prepared the dye. 

I wanted a bright, but supersaturated rainbow. For blue, I used a 50/50 mix of Jacquard Sky Blue and Turquoise. For red, I used a 50/50 mix of Jacquard Fire Red and Hot Fuchsia. And for yellow, straight Jacquard Sun Yellow. In 3 condiment squeeze bottles, I mixed up 1/8 tsp of powdered dye with 3 ounces of warm water. For the blue and the red dyes, I used 1/16 tsp of each color to get the total 1/8 tsp of powder. Then, holding my finger over the opening, I lightly shook the dye and water until it mixed. That took care of my primary colors. 

To get my secondary colors, I used three more empty squeeze bottles. I knew from previous experience that when mixing green or orange, you need more yellow then blue or red. To get green, I started with 1 ounce of yellow. Then I slowly added blue until I got the green color that I visually thought was the “right” green, which was approximately .5 ounces of the blue. I repeated that for orange by starting with 1 ounce of yellow and .5 ounces of red. Purple was equal parts of blue and red, so .75 ounces of each color. 

Now that my dye was ready to go, I turned on the heat to both burners at around low-medium. The water should be hot - almost simmering, but not boiling. Once the desired temperature was achieved, I carefully added my dye. I decided that each row had 3 brownie slices in it, so if I were making brownies, there would be 12 pieces. That means that each of the six colors would get 2 pieces. 

I started by adding the dye carefully making sure the wrong color didn't splash into the wrong place. After the dye was added, I used a prong to gently wiggle the dye water around, so the color spread out a bit. For the first dye addition round, I didn’t overlap the colors. 

Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing
Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing
Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

Before I started the second round, I gently wiggled the yarn where the two colors touched to start the gradient mixing. I added the dye at the center of the color section and used the prong to wiggle the yarn around to get the gradual fade that I want. And while it is tempting to keep playing with the color, I stepped away from the pan and let the dye exhaust.

Why is dye exhausted? When it is just too tired to dye any more yarn? Sorry, bad joke. When the water has turned clear, or mostly clear, it means the dye has been absorbed by the yarn and there isn’t any dye left. Now was a great time to use that prong and check the yarn. I noticed that the bottom portion of the yarn didn’t have as much color, so I slightly rotated all the yarn to expose the white yarn areas. Being gentle, I don’t want to tangle all those mini skeins. Then I added more dye the same way I did before. And let the dye exhaust.

Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

One more final check of the yarn and add any more dye if you need too. I was fine with the blues and red (even had dye left over) but my yellow mix was all gone. Instead of mixing more dye stock, I just added a pinch of yellow dye power right into the dye bath. Then I turned off the heat and impatiently waited for the yarn and pan to cool. As nifty as this pan is, it is made of some heavy-duty materials and it takes forever to cool down. (I know, I kept checking. Over and over.) 

Once it is finally cool, I took the whole pan to my sink. I needed to rinse the yarn but didn’t want to disturb the mini skeins. I added a smidge of clear dish soap to my hands and lightly massaged the yarn in place. I used the sprayer from my sink to rinse the yarn until all the bubbles were gone. Carefully drain the water.

I laid all the soaking wet skeins out on a towel and pressed it as dry as I could. Then I took them into my laundry room and spread them out on a different towel to let them dry overnight. (And be safe from my 10-month-old kitten who REALLY likes yarn.)

Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing
Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

In the morning, the mini skeins were mostly dry, but I didn’t want them to sit there much longer because I didn’t want the yarn to get kinky. I loaded all the skeins into a coffee thermos and sat down to begin the unraveling. I wound the yarn around a cutting board to keep things nice and neat. And it will help with the final drying process. (Remember that show you were binge-watching? Go watch it some more!)

Long Gradient Dyeing
Long Gradient Dyeing

This yarn makes me absurdly happy. I put it in cake form so you can see the gorgeous gradient. Then put it back into a regular sized hank so that I could nicely store it in my yarn stash.

Long Gradient Dyeing
Long Gradient Yarn Dyeing

Lessons I learned:

  • Adjoining dye colors will seep into yellow no matter what, so a pure yellow is difficult to achieve.
  • The middle colors were a bit too crowded in the dye pan, so there were some areas where they dye didn’t penetrate. I’m okay with this, its hand-dyed yarn after all!

I am totally obsessed with this yarn. I absolutely can’t wait to start knitting it up. I’m thinking some sort of Fair Isle inspired sweater. And since I know I will need more yarn than just this glorious hank, the commercial equivalent of this yarn is Zitron Feinheit. I’m thinking a charcoal grey would really make the colors sing. I can’t wait to get started!

About Tara
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy

The Chilly Dog May 2019 Knit Along – Week Two

Having fun with the Line Drawing Knit Along with Ellen Thomas of The Chilly Dog?

The second week is all about the foot and Ellen has provided a video to help you out.

Don't forget to join us on the Makers' Mercantile Ravelry Discussion Group!

Want more info on the KAL or Zitron Art Deco Yarn?  Check out our KAL Information.

Still need your yarn or other supplies?  Check out Makers' Mercantile!

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye

Pinwheel

A fun technique that utilizes the color wheel! All you need is a coil of Kinky Yarn and 3 colors of Jacquard acid dyes. Learn how to create your own neon rainbow so you can cast on a bright and colorful project.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


MATERIALS
Kinky Yarn 100% Superwash Wool
200 grams / 133 meters / 147 yards

TOOLS
Deep bowl
​Citric Acid
Jacquard Acid Dyes
Squirt Bottles
Plastic Wrap
Towels
Old Towel
Gloves

Technique

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Soak your Kinky Yarn in 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of citric acid.  Use your hand to push all the coil down into the water to make sure it is fully submerged.  

You may wish to wear gloves during this point.  The acid is not strong, but it can sting if you have a paper cut.

Optional: Have cat inspect your work. 

After the 30 minutes has gone by, gently squeeze out the excess water and use an old towel to press out even more.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Cover you work surface in plastic wrap.

Snap on your gloves and mix up your Jacquard Acid dyes.  (Don't worry, they don't have acid in them. They need the weak acid like citric acid or white vinegar to set the pigment.) Additionally, you will want to put on a mask for this step. The dye is a fine pigment powder and you don't want to breathe it.

I mixed 1/8 teaspoon of dye and 4 ounces of warm water into dedicated squirt bottles.  Dyes used:
Jacquard Hot Fuchsia
Jacquard Turquoise
Jacquard Sun Yellow

Remember, acid dye is not food safe, so keep your tools separate from your eating utensils.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Using the squirt bottles, apply color in triangular wedges, making sure the different colors don't touch.  I know once the colors touch they will start mixing and I want to control when that happens.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Carefully start overlapping the different colors of dye.   Also, remember that Kinky Yarn is a bulky weight and the dye will have a lot of fiber to work through.  You will want to make sure you get dye on the edges of the coil.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye

Be sure to check the inside of the coils for dye saturation as well.   I know that the inside coils are tighter, and less dye is filtering down the coils.  But because the the inner coils will also have shorter runs of color, I like that it will have a larger undyed portion.  I think it will balance out of the look. 

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


The color gradients have pretty hard edges at this point.  If you like that style, move on to the next step.  I wanted a bit more of a smooth face, so I took the remaining 1 ounce of mixed dye and added 3 ounces of water.  Using the diluted dye, I went over where the colors mixed and the gradient smoothed out.

At this point, the Kinky Yarn coil is super saturated with water, and instead of absorbing, is just becoming a puddle.  Gentle pick up your yarn and over the sink, squeeze out as much water as you can while retaining the coil shape. 

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


You'll also notice that the bottom of your Kinky Yarn coil doesn't have a lot of dye saturation.  Using a towel, wipe up any dye on the plastic wrap, and flip over your coil.  Then repeat the same process to dye this portion of your coil.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Wrap up your coil in plastic wrap.  Add extra if you think its not water tight.  Place it on a dye dedicated plate and microwave it for 4 minutes.  Using tongs, check to see if the water is clear at the bottom of the wrap.  If its not, microwave it for another 3 minutes.

Remove from microwave and allow to cool.   You will need to uncoil the yarn to make sure all of it cools to room temperature.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Gently wash with clear dish soap the coil.  This will dislodge any dye that didn't adhere and wash out the citric acid.   Rinse and squeeze out as much water as you can.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Layout your yarn on an old towel (and squeal with joy over the pretty colors) and pat dry to remove even more excess water.

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Hang your Kinky Yarn up to dry.  

Kinky Yarn Pinwheel Dye


Admire your beautiful and one of a kind Kinky Yarn!

Knitting Abbreviations

Reading a knitting pattern and not sure what an abbreviation means?  Here is our helpful list!

"                         inch(es)
alt                     alternate
approx           approximately
beg                  begin/beginning
BO                  bind off
CO                  cast on
CC                   contrasting color
circ(s)             circular
cont                continue
cn                    cable needle
cs                    center stitch
dec                 decreas(e)(ed)(ing)
dpn(s)           double pointed needle(s)
inc                   increas(e)(ed)(es)(ing)
k or K             knit(ting)(s)(ted)
K2tog            knit two together
Kfb                  knit into front and back of stitch (increase)
LH                   left hand
mkr                marker
M1                  Make one (increase)
MC                  main color
mm                  millimeter(s)
or P              purl(ed)(ing)(s)
patt                 pattern(s)
p2tog             purl two together
pm                   place marker
psso                pass slipped stitch over
rem                 remaining
rnd(s)             round(s)
RS                    right side
sl                      slip(ed)(ping)
slm                  slip marker
skp                  slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over (one stitch decrease)
ssk                  WYIB, slip two stitches one at a time as if to knit, place back onto LH needle, knit tbl (one stitch
                         decrease)
ssp                  WYIF, slip two stitches one at a time as if to knit, place back onto LH needle, purl these 2 sts
                         together (one stitch decrease)
sk2p               slip one as if to knit, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over the knit 2 together (2 stitch decrease)
st(s)                stitch(es)
St st                stockinette stitch
tfl                    through front of loop(s)
tbl                   through back of loop(s)
tog                  together
w&t                (wrap and turn) Bring yarn to front as if you are about to purl, slip one stitch purl-wise. Turn work
                          to other side. Strand of yarn is now in back of work. Bring yarn to the front, slip one stitch back to
                          right needle. Continue to knit or purl the next stitch as instructed.
WS                  wrong side
WYIB             with yarn in back
WYIF             with yarn in front
yfwd               yarn forward
yo                     yarn over

A special thanks to Kyle Kunnecke of Kyle William for providing us with these helpful abbreviations.

Fridays with Franklin: Hot, Wet, and Kinky

Fridays with Franklin logo

For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this adventure, click here.

And so I undertook to do something further with my second cake of Kinky Yarn, which didn’t look to be too interesting since the painted bits that were so cute on the cake…

…didn’t penetrate past the exterior. Most of the strand remained untouched, as was immediately apparent when I uncoiled the cake.

strip of uncoiled kinky yarn showing limits of painting
Too much white.

Keep in mind that I am neither an experienced nor an enthusiastic dyer. My next move, therefore, was based on convenience rather than wisdom. I had used up my supplies of Textil Marabu fabric paint and Fashion Spray Marabu. So I bought the least expensive, most readily available dye I knew of.

Kool-Aid.

Oh yeahhhhhhh.

You’ve probably heard about Kool-Aid’s potential use as a dye; but in case you haven’t, here are some of points in its favor:

• It’s non-toxic.
• It’s cheap.
• It’s easy to find.
• It’s easy to use.
• It doesn’t require the use of additional acids.

And some points against it:

• It’s neither very strong nor very brilliant.
• It works only with animal fibers (it will not dye cotton, linen, or synthetics).
• Others may drink it before you can use it.
• It may tempt an enormous, anthropomorphic jug to bust through your kitchen wall.

As I stood in line at the supermarket, I realized I hadn’t made or consumed Kool-Aid since leaving home to go to college. Prior to that, I must have drunk hundreds of millions of gallons during a childhood that straddled the 1970s and 1980s.

Ours was not a progressive household where food was concerned. My mother thought whole wheat bread was un-American and my father refused to eat it. He still does. We had dinner with the kitchen television on. All our vegetables–such as there were–came from cans. My school lunches always included a gooey, unnatural cake of some kind from Hostess, and on fancy days the standard entrée of a peanut butter sandwich was replaced by the ultimate culinary luxury–a thermos full of Spaghetti-Os.

We were not, in short, the sort of family in which one turned up one’s nose at Kool-Aid. We drank it by the gallon. It was the first thing I ever made in the kitchen, and there was a violently orange Tupperware pitcher devoted to it. It was the only beverage to which we children had free access, the only thing we could take from the fridge without permission. Thirsty? Drink some Kool-Aid. Drink as much Kool-Aid as you want, was my mother’s policy–just please stay outside during all daylight hours and don’t bother me unless somebody is broken or bleeding.

This may shock younger readers. I hasten to reassure them that my mother was not uncaring or unfeeling–quite the opposite. This is just how it used to be in America, especially during the summer. Every house in our neighborhood had a Kool-Aid pitcher, and every house had a mother who wanted to be left alone from June to September.

Out of loyalty to my longtime favorite flavor, I bought two packs of Orange. I always preferred Orange. Grape was a distant second. Fruit Punch was tolerated but never loved; to me it tasted like birthday parties. The more exotic options like Lime and Apple weren’t even on my radar. I didn’t know anyone who drank those. Maybe people who ate whole wheat bread.

Enough about drinking Kool-Aid. How do you dye with it?

Kool Aid Dyeing: A Brief and Inexpert Guide

First, if your yarn is brand new, I’d give it a wash. Nothing fancy, just wash the skein–following the manufacturer’s guidelines for fiber content–with a little soap. Then rinse out absolutely all the soap. Your water should run clear.

Then soak the yarn in clean water while you prepare your dye pot.

If you are going to work with “real” chemical dyes, that’s a big undertaking and among many other precautions, you need to use pots and spoons dedicated solely to dyeing.

With Kool-Aid, however, just grab a deepish pot that looks like it will comfortably hold your yarn.

(You can do Kool-Aid dyeing in the microwave, but my microwave is on the blink and so I’m only going to talk about the stove top.)

Dump your Kool-Aid powder into the pot. The general principle, which is not difficult to grasp, is that more powder gives deeper color. There’s a practical limit, though, so don’t go nuts. That’s all I got for you. If you’d like an extended treatise on the subject, I refer you to this splendid article from Knitty.

Pour in some water–don’t fill the pot–and stir until the powder dissolves.

Put in your yarn.

Add enough water to cover the yarn.

Put the pot over the flame and heat it until the water is just shy of boiling. Then turn off the flame, cover the pot, and let it sit for a good half hour. Stir it from time to time, if you can remember. I forgot.

In a half hour, maybe a bit more, you should hope to see that the water is clear–that means your yarn has absorbed the dye.

If the water isn’t clear, try heating up the pot again, and letting the yarn sit until the water cools.

Then rinse the yarn thoroughly and let it dry. Use warm water to rinse, as shocking hot wool with cold water may encourage felting.

I was deeply alarmed to see that when removed from the bath, my yarn was a dead ringer for Cheetohs. I hate Cheetohs.

Oh, dear.

Kinky is knit into a tight strip, which inevitably prevents dye from reaching every spot on the strand equally. So I hoped the lurid glow of the exterior fiber would probably be moderated by some paleness in the interior.

I wound my Kinky into a hank on my niddy noddy so that it would dry more quickly…

…and then hung the tied hank in the shower to let it dry.

You do not, of course, want to wind yarn that is even a little wet into a ball.

Sure enough, the wound yarn was only moderately Cheetoh-esque. It was actually rather closer to Spaghetti-Os, of which I have only fond memories Quite a relief. And in spite of the thorough soakings and washings, much of the kink remained as gentle waves.

Gently kinky.

Now, as to what to make with it? I can’t decide. I’m still swatching.

But I’ve have had fun playing with dye, and I plan to do it again. That Kinky has encouraged me to try dyeing (not a favorite thing) and knit with bulky (also not a favorite thing) and helped me to enjoy both is nothing short of remarkable.

Next time, we’ll revisit a project I’ve set aside for a while–and talk about an exciting new direction for “Fridays with Franklin.” See you in two weeks!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Kinky Yarn (100% superwash wool)
addi Click Turbo Interchangeable Needle Set
Textil Marabu fabric paint
Fashion Spray Marabu textile spray paint

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Bookwas brought out by Soho Publishing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

Gauge Yarns Whidbey in Yarn Yay Colorway

YarnYAY!s Exclusive Colorway of Whidbey

We are so excited for the launch of Gauge Yarns exclusive new yarn Whidbey!

Inspired by Whidbey Island, located about 30 miles north of Seattle, the island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound. Often referred to as Puget Sound’s Largest Artist’s Colony, Whidbey is home to numerous working artists, writers, and performers. The south end of the Island is a true haven for those who enjoy the fine arts. With its rich flora and fauna, including Deception Pass State Park (the most visited state park in Washington), we wanted to ensure that our Whidbey yarn was just as spectacular and special as its namesake island. 

And to go along with this new release, YarnYAY! has their very own exclusive colorway.  Check out Vickie Howell's Instagram unboxing. This colorway was available only in limited quantities, but Makers' Mercantile will soon have other colors of Whidbey in stock.

Want to see YarnYAY!'s One Year Anniversary Box featuring Whidbey? Take a look.